Hastings and Bishops Stortford - Insight into your Local Modern Estate Agency

Posted on 17th October 2019

Flexible hours and online agencies are a big PART of the future of estate agency

Vendors and landlords' busy lives mean the traditional model of Estate Agency is obsolete. We started this agency in 2016 following a week spent training with a national (calamitous) online agency. Coming from a traditional agency background, spanning experience of corporate to upmarket independent agencies, I (Gemma Patrick, Director and Founder of Patrick Oliver Ltd), envisioned a blend of the two models. As they were both polar opposites, I noticed a niche that could bring Estate Agency into the modern technological day.

Witness the transformation of the travel industry, Amazon shopping, and supermarkets like Ocado, and one can see that the High Street agency model needs to be shaken up. 

An estate agency specialising in prime London property have claimed that high street branches are ‘dead’ and that the industry will eventually have to embrace more flexible working patterns. Almost as soon as our agency Patrick Oliver began, we have proven that we easily compete with and succeed ahead of the leading High Street agencies. 

Providing Residential and Commercial Sales from £100,000 investment properties, up to million pound luxury homes, retail units, and hotels, we have found that our online model favours the shift in working patterns and buyers’ preferences. Nearly all searches are conducted online on the main portals. These are the modern day shop windows and give so much more information and autonomy to buyers. 

Buyers no longer need to spend their weekends and days off trailing around agent after agent in each region or town that they want to live or invest. They don’t need to be registered with every conceivable agent in the hope that they are remembered when the next property comes on the market. That’s what the Saved Searches are for and email alerts. 

Yes there are the very few who are not tech-savvy, but even now, we find that relatives or friends help these rare buyers and will go online for the information.

All valuations, and viewings, are carried out AT the Property in question. All face to face communication is about the property. Surveyors will be at the property. Lenders will go there. Contractors. Architects. The ones who need to have exceptional customer service are the agents whom spend the vast majority of any sale on the phone to their client or buyer. Phone Calls, Emails, Whatsapp, Text; these are the optimum form of communication. 

On the occasion that a buyer or client cannot meet at the property, then we immediately offer a quiet location in a local private meeting room to have a face to face meeting. It doesn’t need to be in a clinical office environment, so often distracted by phones ringing or bored staff listening in on private information. 

Vendors, buyers, landlords, and tenants, lead such busy and time-pressured lives that most are only available during the evenings or weekends. It therefore makes logical sense for agents like Patrick Oliver, to make themselves available at these times, rather than being chained to rigid traditional office hours. Consequently the traditional estate agency branch and it’s 8.30am to 6.30pm hours is no longer relevant to many potential clients. We are providing a more pro-active, hands-on, efficient service at the times that suit our clients.

MORE MOTIVATED

We have found that this approach also has benefits for our employees because allowing staff to work more autonomously and to their own targets makes them more motivated.

These days, it’s increasingly recognised that it’s important for people to have a good work/life balance with the opportunity to take holidays and time off.

In order to remain profitable and meet the changing needs of modern consumers, agents need to embrace the flexible working structures adopted by many other sectors.

Providing a professional and expert service which isn’t constrained by a high street office or traditional working hours really is the future of estate agency in this country.

With clients able to access us 14-15 hours a day, 7 days a week, via numerous avenues of contact, we are far more accessible and so have a need to be more attentive than when I started almost 20 years ago, when you put the office answer phone on and came in the next day to deal with things, now at the ping of a button.

We are all super connected, and increasingly found that this could be tailored to match our clients’ needs. Instead of being chained to a desk during confined hours each week, I am far more reachable on my phone and can adapt quickly to any sale or rental that requires more urgent attention. 

If anything with the rise of the millennials – to stay ahead of the pack – I have discovered that more customer contact is the new watchword, involving more hours online with regular emails and messages, for example, to keep a sale on track, or a tenant up to date with their rental application. 

Only 4% of clients may be walking into offices, but 100% of them want service and they need to know that they can connect at any time with their agent, not just from 4pm onwards and at weekends.

 

We hope that you find this article insightful in to how our Modern Estate Agency has proven to be so successful in your local area. Please contact Gemma Patrick on 01424 390100 if your property is located in East Sussex & Kent (we cover St Leonards on Sea, Bexhill, Battle, Rye, Camber, Beckley, Westfield). Please contact Zoe Kenworthy on 01279 510300 if your property is in Bishops Stortford and the surrounding area. 

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